This is the first in a series of short articles that aim to promote a better understanding of the IFoAs Disciplinary Scheme
All members are bound by the rules of the Disciplinary Scheme and could find themselves subject to a complaint during their careers. This may relate to conduct in the course of their professional duties and/or personal lives, and all members should be aware of and understand the scheme.
Why do we have a scheme?
The scheme allows us to investigate allegations of misconduct in a fair and rigorous manner. It is vital that the public has confidence in the quality of actuarial work and the professionalism and integrity of all members.
What is defined as misconduct?
In short: it is a failure to comply with the standards of behaviour, integrity, competence or professional judgement that other members or the public might reasonably expect of a member.
You need to know this as all allegations are ultimately determined by a judicial panel with reference to the full definition (see panel).
What is an allegation?
An allegation is a statement in writing that a named member has or may have been guilty of misconduct. All allegations must be investigated under the scheme. There is no preliminary filter. Members subject to an investigation always have opportunity to comment fully on the allegations.
What types of allegations have been considered under the scheme?
Poor communication with clients or colleagues.
Criminal convictions (for example, breach of the peace, drink driving convictions). Members have a duty to disclose any conviction or adverse finding by another regulator.
Breaches of technical and/or ethical standards (including the Actuaries' Code and the Financial Reporting Council's Technical Actuarial Standards). Not every individual breach will amount to misconduct.
Shortcomings in an expert role - for example, in divorce proceedings.
Non-compliance with continuing professional development (CPD) scheme.
How can I minimise the risk of an allegation being made?
Do not take on a piece of work unless you have the necessary competence or knowledge. So, if you are a scheme actuary, do not assume you have the necessary knowledge to act in another practice area.
Keep up to date with regulatory and statutory requirements that apply to your work. Ignorance is no defence.
Keep files up to date.
Have clear terms of engagement.
Manage your client's expectations at all times.
Make sure all communication is clear and timely.
Use file/telephone notes to record all discussions.
Keep CPD and professionalism training up to date.
If an allegation is ever made against you, co-operate in any investigation and engage with the investigation team. If you have made a mistake, panels will look for insight into what went wrong and what proactive steps you have taken to improve your knowledge and competence.
Overview of process
Further information on the Disciplinary Scheme and how we handle allegations, including a flowchart that sets out the various stages under the scheme, can be found on our website, as well as a helpful FAQs document entitled Safeguarding the Public Interest.
Next time we will explain the investigation stage, case reports and the adjudication panel. Also, look out for talks at regional societies.
Further information: www.actuaries.org.uk
If you have any queries on the operation of the scheme, or would like copies of any of our information documents, please email
Definition of misconduct
Misconduct is defined as "any conduct by a member, whether committed in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, in the course of carrying out professional duties or otherwise, constituting failure by that member to comply with the standards of behaviour, integrity, competence or professional judgement which other members or the public might reasonably expect of a member having regard to the bye-laws of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and/or to any code, standards, advice, guidance, memorandum or statement on professional conduct, practice or duties which may be given and published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and/or, for so long as there is a relevant memorandum of understanding in force, by the Financial Reporting Council (including by the Board for Actuarial Standards) and to all other relevant circumstances".